Jamie Kennedy Poutine

The great Toronto poutine challenge: the poutine Bolognese

Moving further into unchartered territory, today's poutine comes by way of celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy's Gilead CafĂŠ. At the Gilead, the poutine is part of their daily specials, so there's a new one every day. Today's? A poutine with Bolognese sauce and sheep's milk cheese curd.

Now, before everyone gets all riled up, here's the defense: there is more to poutine than the sum of its ingredients, and while Mr. Kennedy's version takes some creative liberties, is it less of a poutine than one made of reconstituted potato parts, powdered beef (or chicken) flavoured gravy, and rubbery grocery store cheese curds?

Where does this obsession with authenticity come from, and why is the poutine sacred where, say, pizza or perogies are not?

It's just food, and if it's not going to be particularly nutritious, it might as well be fun. So, with that in mind I present, The poutine Bolognese:

Fries

These fries are absolutely perfect and completely end my inner argument over size. The outcome? Size matters, but in the case of poutine you want them slender, lightly golden and fried in clean, fresh oil. A thinner fry also makes the dish feel slightly less heavy, the french fries lighter and crispier. It creates for a more refined experience. 5/5

Gravy

This is neither a traditional poutine nor a traditional Bolognese. What it is is a lovely fresh tomato sauce bursting with flavour. It's surprisingly simple, which keeps the flavours bright and clear. Tomatoes place the lead role here, deviating from a traditional Bolognese, which should be predominantly meat-based. I'm not complaining though, because this is one of the tastiest tomato sauces I've had, ever. It's not over done with herbs or garlic or wine, just pure tomato with a little pepper and some flavour from the minced meat and sausage in the sauce. 5/5

Curds

The only issue with the poutine comes in the curds, in that they're barely there. The ones that made it in are mild and creamy, but they're scarce. I get that this is a more high-end poutine, but I'd boost the cheese levels up just a smidgen. 3/5

Portion

This depends on whether you gauge your value on volume or flavour. If volume be your scale, then go elsewhere. This is not the poutine to gorge on. However, in my eyes it's the perfect size and one of the few I've been able to get all the way through and feel completely satisfied afterwards. 5/5

Price: $9.00

Total Score: 18/20

The Gilead CafĂŠ topped our Best Poutine in Toronto list two years ago, so it was only appropriate to revisit Mr. Kennedy's lunch spot again. This one might head into left field a bit with its Bolognese, but there's no denying it works as a dish. Perhaps it's time to expand our definition of the dish - if you can get the specialty stuff in Quebec, then what's an Anglophone like me have any business judging authenticity?


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